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Thread: Assessment of Effects Based Operations

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Assessment of Effects Based Operations

    Assessment of Effects Based Operations

    14 August 2008

    MEMORANDUM FOR U.S. JOINT FORCES COMMAND

    Subject: Assessment of Effects Based Operations

    1. Attached are my thoughts and Commanderís guidance regarding Effects Based Operations (EBO). The paper is designed to provide the JFCOM staff with clear guidance and a new direction on how EBO will be addressed in joint doctrine and used in joint training, concept development, and experimentation. I am convinced that the various interpretations of EBO have caused confusion throughout the joint force and amongst our multinational partners that we must correct. It is my view that EBO has been misapplied and overextended to the point that it actually hinders rather than helps joint operations.

    2. Therefore, we must return to time honored principles and terminology that our forces have tested in the crucible of battle and are well grounded in the theory and nature of war. At the same time, we must retain and adopt those aspects of effect based thinking that are useful. We must stress the importance of mission type orders that contain clear Commanderís Intent, unambiguous tasks and purpose, and most importantly, links ways and means with achievable ends. To augment these tenets, we must leverage non-military capabilities and strive to better understand the different operating variables that make up todayís more complex operating environments.

    3. My assessment is shaped by my own personal experiences and the experience of others in a variety of operational situations. Iím convinced we must keep the following in mind: First, operations in the future will require a balance of regular and irregular competencies. Second, the enemy is smart, and adaptive. Third, all operating environments are dynamic with an infinite number of variables; therefore, it is not scientifically possible to accurately predict the outcome of an action. To suggest otherwise runs contrary to historical experience and the nature of war. Fourth, we are in error when we think that what works (or does not work) in one theater is universally applicable to all theaters. Finally, to quote Sherman, ďEvery attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster.Ē History is replete with such examples and further denies us any confidence that the acute predictability promised by EBOís long assessment cycle can strengthen our doctrine.

    4. The joint force must act in uncertainty and thrive in chaos, sensing opportunity therein and not retreating into a need for more information. JFCOMís purpose is to ensure that joint doctrine smoothes and simplifies joint operations while reducing friendly friction. My goal is to return clarity to our planning processes and operational concepts. Ultimately, my aim is to ensure leaders convey their intent in clearly understood terms and empower their subordinates to act decisively.

    5. While NATO and many Partner Nations have adopted the EBO nomenclature, NATOís policy focuses on the whole of government/Comprehensive Approach. In short, NATOís Effects Based Approach to Operations (EBAO) does not fully mirror U.S. EBO. NATOís use of EBAO is left unaddressed in this USJFCOM Commanderís Guidance.

    6. A pre-decisional working draft of this document was prematurely circulated and should be discarded. I regret any confusion resulting from the unintended early release of this draft document.

    J. N. MATTIS
    General, U.S. Marine Corps

    Commanderís Guidance Regarding Effects Based Operations - US Joint Forces Command (PDF)

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Very nice! Good to see someone actually thinking about these things and then writing coherently about them.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Baruch Ha Shem! I can die happy. Common sense at last, and not before time. It's only taken 5 years to reach this point!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    Good news! One less thing I have to learn about at CGSC!
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Listen to me

    Excellent letter and I'm dazed by the "punches". Will this led to a debate here, let alone within the US military? Can we (UK police) borrow him to administer some sense here!

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Default Be Careful ....

    EBO is dead. Long Live EBO!!!

    Be assured, the systems guys will be pushing EBO under another name shortly. The original (leaked) draft was also interesting, because it dismissed several other terms such as "net-centric warfare", "attack the network", "system of systems", and a few others as being jargon that confuses rather than enlightens the picture.

    However, it was obviously spiked in the final, probably so as not to shut down research along those lines, perhaps to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    I totally agree with getting rid of network centric, and system of systems, and "attack the network" when we are talking about social, cultural, human, clusters and not technology. I am of the lonely opinion that human traits should drive technology language rather than technology jargon subsuming human activities. I'm stretching here, but technology is a metaphor for the human activity, and humans are NOT metaphors for technology. Jargon, ontological semantics, and techno-speak should reflect the reality not some tarted up euphemistic jargon speak. It is lonely being me.
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    EBO is dead. Long Live EBO!!!

    Be assured, the systems guys will be pushing EBO under another name shortly.
    Wasn't it called "Theory of five circles" or something like that around '90?

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    Default British EBA?

    davidfpo,

    The Effects Based Approach reportedly appears to have disappeared in in Joint Doctrine Publication 0-01, British Defence Doctrine (3rd Edition), dated Aug 2008. EBA used to be found in Chapter Five and in this edition there is now no mention of the term in that chapter. Donít have a copy I can post, but if you are interested, check The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, MoD (hmm, I just checked and cannot see the new edition ). So not sure whether the change is in a 'draft' or in an official version (DCDC does publish drafts).

    Not sure yet what this absence means, beyond an apparent excising of the EBO/EBA terminology, for the British are (have been?) committed, last I heard to the Comprehensive Approach (another term for EBA) - as is NATO. EBA always made more sense to me, but as Cavguy says, and unfortunately I believe rightly so, the 'systems approach' types have not gone away.

    Cheers

    TT

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TT View Post
    Not sure yet what this absence means, beyond an apparent excising of the EBO/EBA terminology, for the British are (have been?) committed, last I heard to the Comprehensive Approach (another term for EBA) - as is NATO. EBA always made more sense to me, but as Cavguy says, and unfortunately I believe rightly so, the 'systems approach' types have not gone away.
    Yes the CA is still here and is EBA. It is also substantially faulty and a mis-reading of the military instrument. EBA is also in the last copy ADP Land Ops that I have. It's about to have another "whizz bang" concept bolted on to it, which I am currently researching.

    I have it on very good authority, that the current FM-3, though "rejecting" EBO has a lot of Systemic Operational Design, which based on what I have read recently is about as useful as a chocolate tea pot, and a rehash of the old estimate process. To quote from Fig 6, in the work I have been looking at -
    "Learning porblemization" - if it's not correct English then best not to use it.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Default Bad idea or bad process? Regardless it was bad

    When I first heard of EBO, I admit I had high hopes for it, that was until I was actually trained in it, and saw the seriously flawed concepts of SoSA, ONA, and worse, much worse, MOE and MOP. Then I noted every one assumed their actions (unilaterally) we're creating these magical effects. At first I thought it was intended to flatten the organization and harmonize the interagency actors by arming everyone with the objectives and the associated effects, thus if you didn't have guidance from higher, you knew what needed to be done on the ground. However, after studying it and watching it in practice in the real world and during exercises it is clear that GEN Mattis's memo is spot on in most aspects.

    I was a small bit player in one of the most successful interagency and multinational operations in recent history and that was JTF Liberia in 2003. Fortunately, it didn't receive much press outside of Africa, so we had considerable freedom of movement. During this operation the multinational forces and interagency were successfully harmonized with clear objectives that resulted in orders with clear cut task(s)/purpose(s). In this case leadership was decisive (both State Department and Military). I think we would have failed miserbly if we used EBO doctrine.

    Unfortunately, this EBO like process has manifested itself in other ways, where U.S. forces inappropriately apply a CARVER matrix to terrorist and insurgent organizations, which resulted in the failed network approach where one attempts to destroy an insurgency by killing or capturing its so called key nodes (important individuals). In limited cases this method will work, and most cases it is a key supporting role, but not at the expense of failing to protect the population. What worked in Iraq was large scale population control measures that the surge enabled, where the focus was protecting the populace. I'm confident history will show that the much bragged about approach "it's the network stupid" was actually a failure or at most a minor enabler. Like EBO this was based on faulty assumptions that an insurgency is a simple system or simple system of systems like an electric power grid. It isn't, and surgical actions won't when the fight anymore than surgical bombings. That brings me to the key question, is EBO entirely flawed or is our practice (based on faulty assumptions) of it flawed? I think the answer is both, and if we focused on the objective of defeating the insurgency, vice all the sub effects, we would have realized from day one we needed more forces (Iraqi or otherwise) to get control initially.

    Prior to EBO, I think the most damaging concept to our military was the force protection bureaucracy which was an off shoot of GEN Downey's investigation of the Khobar Towers incident. Force protection was always an inherit responsibility, and there were several anti-terrorism courses long before force protection level I thru IV training. This resulted in an another cottage industry of contractors, wasted military manpower and in too many cases operational paralysis. Force protection is important, it has always been our second priority, which in order are the mission, the men, then yourself. Prior to 9/11 we let force protection (the men) trump accomplishing the mission as a priority. I would like to see GEN Mattis tackle this one, and while he is at it take a hard look at Information Operations. I'm not anti-IO, but it would be helpful for all to see some clarity here also.

    EBO is not the only practice in our military that lacks common sense.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    That brings me to the key question, is EBO entirely flawed or is our practice (based on faulty assumptions) of it flawed? I think the answer is both,
    I am convinced EBO gained as much ground as it did, because officers saw huge personal gain in it's advocacy, rather than in it's understanding. EBO is flawed. It assumes you have knowledge and insights, that rarely and mostly never exist. It also assumes you can predict a second or even third order effect and that the effect you create is observable. I rarely if ever encountered an EBO advocate who did not admit this - but was usually just prepared to ignore this fundamental.

    I am convinced that at the root of all this stuff is some bizarre belief that there must be "a better way," and that this "better way" should involve less killing and destruction. The problem is that this idea (and it's been around a while) is never argued in a way that considers how difficult complex ideas (SOD?) are made to work when action is opposed.

    and while he is at it take a hard look at Information Operations. I'm not anti-IO, but it would be helpful for all to see some clarity here also.
    I am an IO-sceptic purely because there is little if any clarity that I can see. The only valid explanation I have ever seen came from Tom Odom, when he told me it was matching the message with the action.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Spud's Avatar
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    Like all of these things I think a simple concept got overly Ďtechnologifiedí by people with far too much time on their hands ... IO in many regards is exactly the same.

    To me EBO started simple for simple audiences Ö a process/terminology used at whole-of-Government level to let the military be the military and the politicians be the politicians and the other departments do what they needed to do in support of national needs. We (the military) could simply ask Government what end state they wanted and what effects they wanted to achieve and then we could go off and plan the military things to achieve it. We could also clearly identify those non-military things/elements that we needed for success. Really it was about letting the military plan to achieve the job with their complete arsenal of options rather than plan to meet the COA outlined by Government ... "We want to you to win (without defining it) without causing undue political pressure for us (without defining what that was) and you need to do it all within this arbitrary budget and with exactly 727 personnel.... oh by the way we want all of the services included and please make sure no one gets killed" I can really see the frustration that led us down this path ... "just tell us what you want done and let us go and do it" ... that's all EBO was really about.

    It got caught up when a simple process for getting clear and coherent intent statement out of our political masters suddenly became something that influenced the operational art and played in tactics.

    If we had left it up at the strategic (vice the military strategic) I think it would fly ... we'd end up with nice language that worked across Government and let everyone feel happy about things. Importantly the military then could do its normal planning (JOPES, JMAP whatever) and carry on. When you try to bring the language and theory down into the operational and tactical level it suddenly plays havoc with concepts of mission command and everything else.

    Theorists, boffins and academics (ducking into my Stage 3 Fighting Pit here) have to accept a lot of responsibility for this ...

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spud View Post
    I can really see the frustration that led us down this path ... "just tell us what you want done and let us go and do it" ... that's all EBO was really about.
    I beg to differ. EBO is "just tell us what you want the enemy to think and what you want the end state to look like as result, plus we want to risk very little, and use very little."

    Theorists, boffins and academics (ducking into my Stage 3 Fighting Pit here) have to accept a lot of responsibility for this ...
    Agreed, but the real problem was/is the soldiers who accepted the words and teachings of the theorists, boffins and academics, without holding them to rigour. Radical military thought is the slimming pill, hair restorative viagra, that few Officers can resist.

    I submit, (from the same Stage 3 Fighting pit and digging to Stage 4) that the adherence to, and acceptance of certain modern schools of military thought is almost entirely emotional.

    Would we even have heard of John Boyd if he had been a 35-year-old kaftan-wearing civilian woman academic called Joanna Boyd presenting the same ideas to the same audiences?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Willum, you a

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    ...
    EBO is not the only practice in our military that lacks common sense.
    Master of understatement...

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    I totally agree with getting rid of network centric, and system of systems, and "attack the network" when we are talking about social, cultural, human, clusters and not technology. I am of the lonely opinion that human traits should drive technology language rather than technology jargon subsuming human activities. I'm stretching here, but technology is a metaphor for the human activity, and humans are NOT metaphors for technology. Jargon, ontological semantics, and techno-speak should reflect the reality not some tarted up euphemistic jargon speak. It is lonely being me.
    Agree 100%, so you're not as alone as you might have thought...
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Ditto

    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    I totally agree with getting rid of network centric, and system of systems, and "attack the network" when we are talking about social, cultural, human, clusters and not technology. I am of the lonely opinion that human traits should drive technology language rather than technology jargon subsuming human activities. I'm stretching here, but technology is a metaphor for the human activity, and humans are NOT metaphors for technology. Jargon, ontological semantics, and techno-speak should reflect the reality not some tarted up euphemistic jargon speak. It is lonely being me.
    Keeping in mind that if more had been able to remember this and the technology focus had been kept accordingly this particular memo might not have been necessary.

    Technology should be meant to help man do what man does only better. Not to do what man can't even do with help.
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    The joint force must act in uncertainty and thrive in chaos, sensing opportunity therein and not retreating into a need for more information.
    I don't know about the joint force and EBO, but that certainly describes police operations.

    I'm still digesting the article, but a few other things about it seem to have police application as well.
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    Registered User Hajduk's Avatar
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    Here's a stab at it:

    I always felt that EBO, EBAO, CA whatever you want to call it was the institutionalization of conducting warfare where every military or political leader can read and rehash a concept to look and sound like he has the answer to the future conduct of war.

    Other than confusing the heck out of everybody in the room & battlefield, as seen during the Isreali-Hez war, the whole EB(A)O / CA debate was always sterile and somewhat to good to be true.

    To me it seems that CA-EB(A)O was intended to codify what yesterday's military greats and statesmen (Alex the Great, Ceaser, Nap, Claus, Patton, Churchill) possessed either by shear luck of talent or what I always thought was the key CHARACTER.

    Its not hard to agree with Gen. Mattis that such concepts might work within a closed system but the 'total' complexity of war demands for a specific type (or specific group) of people to conduct war.

    Some people are born to be warriors some are not. I think EB(A)O was thought to be the holy grail, or at least the road to it, of conducting war where anyone could just open the book and follow it full circle to ultimate success on the battlefield.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up True on both counts, I think....

    Quote Originally Posted by Hajduk View Post
    Some people are born to be warriors some are not. I think EB(A)O was thought to be the holy grail, or at least the road to it, of conducting war where anyone could just open the book and follow it full circle to ultimate success on the battlefield.
    The former is absolutely correct and the EBO thing is simply the latest in a long line of attempts to allow anyone to successfully fight a battle or a war.

    That's deemed necessary due to DOPMA and the US insistence that all _______(Insert rank and specialty of choice) are absolutely equal in skills and attributes. That's patently nonsensical. Better training would help but even that will not make a cautious metric lover into an intuitive commander.

    Cav Guy was right in his comment above; the systems guys will be back. I've seen about four or five iterations along the same line in an attempt to force decision codification over the past 60 years. None of 'em worked, the next one won't either.

    It's an art, not a science...

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